The Seoul Metropolitan Government has proposed building a pedestrian bridge called "Dream Bridge" connecting the city`s posh southern neighborhood of Apgujeong-dong to Seoul Forest in the north as part of a regeneration program for Apgujeong-dong. The cost of the bridge -- an estimated 100 billion won (94.6 million U.S. dollars) -- will be funded half by the city and half by residents involved in the program. Critics blast the proposed spending of 50 billion won (47.3 million dollars) in taxpayers money to build a bridge linking the rich neighborhood, but thinking out of the box is needed. The bridge will link southern and northern Seoul and will be used by people living north of the Han River. It could even become a landmark of Seoul like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Chinese and Japanese are often heard when walking along Cheonggye Stream. On the roadside are numerous tourist buses waiting for foreign visitors. The stream and Gwanghwamun Plaza have become an essential part of city tours of Seoul. The restoration project for the stream, for which the city spent 390 billion won (369.4 million dollars), was initially opposed by many because of fears of traffic congestion but the stream is now a famous tourist attraction.
The Han River goes through the heart of Seoul and is a kilometer wide. It is much bigger than the Seine River in Paris, which attracts numerous tourists around the world with many things to see. Unlike Cheonggye Stream crossing the building forest, the Han River shows the grandness of nature. The pedestrian bridge will be built on the point where the river begins to curve with a good view of both the upstream and downstream of the river. If built as an eco-friendly bridge that allows only bicycles and people, the bridge can be a landmark beloved by Seoul residents.
Both sides of the river were blocked with apartment buildings because little time was given to think about the design of the city. The regeneration plan of the Han River should remove gray buildings and focus on creating beautiful scenes. Building a pedestrian bridge should be discussed in the context of modifying the view of the Han River. The redevelopment plan of Apgujeong-dong will be the first step.
Seoul Forest, which will be the other end of the proposed bridge, has grown trees and formed forests as it marks its sixth anniversary. It is a place where deer and moose play and water birds rest. If this eco-park is connected to the south of Seoul with the bridge, it can be linked to Namsan, Cheonggye Stream and Mount Bukhan. The bridge can turn into a premium tourist resource attracting foreign visitors, connecting the north of Seoul with a 600-year history and traditional culture with the south of Seoul full of young and sophisticated urban attractions and shopping centers.